For Trustpower the impetus to move to these sparkling new headquarters in Tauranga’s CBD was all about accommodating for change. With the future of electricity as we know it being uncertain, Trustpower had transformed from being a regional power company to become a national multi-utility company. And with staff numbers climbing towards 500, it had outgrown its rundown premises on the rural outskirts of Tauranga.
Trustpower discussed moving into the centre of Tauranga with the city council, as a move that would be mutually beneficial for the company and the town. It inducted Warren and Mahoney in the search for a suitable spot to lease and eventually discovered this site, owned by CBC Construction, which previously had a warehouse on it.
In the design of the new 7,200m2 building (of which Trustpower would be a long-term leaseholder), Warren and Mahoney talked to the company about the evolution of the workplace, says lead architect David Giera.
“We visited ASB North Wharf in Auckland to see how it worked and what was possible. We saw what it meant to have a dynamic, energising environment. Trustpower came on board with the idea and that really altered the direction of the project in a positive way.”
Activity Based Working (ABW) specialists Veldhoen + Company were called in to measure how Trustpower worked previously and how it wanted to change. This resulted in a set of physical requirements in terms of the number and size of meeting rooms and workspaces for the new premises.
Giera says the key to ABW is interaction and an efficient use of building space and energy. “Because of the tools we have now, people don’t need to sit at fixed desks. In most companies you will find only around 70 per cent of staff in the building at any one time. We actually go to work for interaction.”
The central atrium was designed to help promote this movement and communication, by visually and physically connecting people. Bridges span the atrium at angles, giving the sense of a bustling atmosphere. The atrium also floods the building with natural light. “We talked about having the atrium before the site was built, and that was quite a hard sell because it is a lot of space that can’t be rented out,” Giera says.
“The atrium is carved out of the centre of the space and folds up like an apron at the edges, to connect with the upper floors through a timber staircase, which doubles as bleacher seating for large group meetings. The space is designed for long views, so you can see people and catch up with them instead of sending an email. It is all about enabling collaboration.”
From any point in the atrium, it is possible to see the building’s colour scheme, which helps with wayfinding. The top floor displays reds and yellows and represents Mauao (Mount Maunganui), the middle floor is clad in greens to represent ngahere (the forest), while the ground floor has blues to denote moana (the sea). The workstations and furniture on the edges of the bustling atrium are allocated for casual and collaborative work.
Pod-style meeting rooms provide a filter between the atrium-edge desking and the workstations along the eastern and western edges of the building, which are designed for concentrated, quiet work. Lockers are provided on each floor for employees to store their belongings, a must when you can’t leave anything at your desk.
“Trustpower really embraced ABW. Even the CEOs have foregone their offices. This is great, because for ABW to really work, you can’t do it by halves. You really have to take on the whole concept,” says Giera.